Padraic Colum (18811972). The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived before Achilles. 1921.
Part III. The Heroes of the Quest
Chapter III. Theseus and the Minotaur
THERE had come into the city a youth of great valor whose name was Peirithous: from a far country he had come, filled with a desire of meeting Theseus, whose fame had come to him. The youth was in Athens at the time Theseus returned. He went down to the beach with the townsfolk, and he saw Theseus standing alone with his head bowed down. He went to him and he spoke, and Theseus lifted his head and he saw before him a young man of strength and beauty. He looked upon him, and the thought of high deeds came into his mind again. He wanted this young man to be his comrade in dangers and upon quests. And Peirithous looked upon Theseus, and he felt that he was greater and nobler than he had thought. They became friends and sworn brothers, and together they went into far countries.
Now there was in Epirus a savage king who had a very fair daughter. He had named this daughter Persephone, naming her thus to show that she was held as fast by him as that other Persephone was held who ruled in the Underworld. No man might see her, and no man might wed her. But Peirithous had seen the daughter of this king, and he desired above all things to take her from her father and make her his wife. He begged Theseus to help him enter that kings palace and carry off the maiden.
So they came to Epirus, Theseus and Peirithous, and they entered the kings palace, and they heard the bay of the dread hound that was there to let no one out who had once come within the walls. Suddenly the guards of the savage king came upon them, and they took Theseus and Peirithous and they dragged them down into dark dungeons.
Two great chairs of stone were there, and Theseus and Peirithous were left seated in them. And the magic powers that were in the chairs of stone were such that the heroes could not lift themselves out of them. There they stayed, held in the great stone chairs in the dungeons of that savage king.
Then it so happened that Heracles came into the palace of the king. The harsh king feasted Heracles and abated his savagery before him. But he could not forbear boasting of how he had trapped the heroes who had come to carry off Persephone. And he told how they could not get out of the stone chairs and how they were held captive in his dark dungeon. Heracles listened, his heart full of pity for the heroes from Greece who had met with such a harsh fate. And when the king mentioned that one of the heroes was Theseus, Heracles would feast no more with him until he had promised that the one who had been his comrade on the Argo would be let go.
The king said he would give Theseus his liberty if Heracles would carry the stone chair on which he was seated out of the dungeon and into the outer world. Then Heracles went down into the dungeon. He found the two heroes in the great chairs of stone. But one of them, Peirithous, no longer breathed. Heracles took the great chair of stone that Theseus was seated in, and he carried it up, up, from the dungeon and out into the world. It was a heavy task even for Heracles. He broke the chair in pieces, and Theseus stood up, released.